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Parents and the family and home environment play a central role in the early learning and development of infants and children. A range of interventions exist to support parents and families, particularly in situations where the family is vulnerable and/or where the infant or child may be at risk of delays in learning or development. The first five years of life present a critical window of opportunity for learning and development and they lay the foundation for learning and readiness for school.

This Evidence Brief focuses on outcomes defined in the Australian Early Development Census, which collects data about key areas of early childhood development (known as ‘domains’). The Language and Cognitive Skills domain includes basic and advanced literacy skills, basic numeracy, interest in literacy and numeracy, and memory. The Communication Skills and General Knowledge domain includes receptive and expressive language skills and general knowledge.

The Evidence Brief summarises the findings of a review of systematic reviews. Using this rigorous methodology, the review found evidence to support the use of parenting and family support interventions for improving cognitive and receptive and expressive language outcomes of children. Research suggests parent involvement in interventions, including parent-mediated or delivered interventions and literacy interventions, should be encouraged. There was also evidence that a greater benefit comes from professionals rather than peers or non-professionals as providers of home visiting interventions. Parenting and family interventions also appear to have a positive impact on the academic outcomes of children. There is limited evidence at this stage for parenting and family support interventions in relation to numeracy and general knowledge outcomes.

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